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How a public feud over anti-Semitism dealt House Democrats their first real setback

For weeks, tensions on Capitol Hill have been rising over remarks from freshman rep. Ilhan Omar or Minnesota questioning the allegiance of Israel supporters in Congress. Her comments drew condemnation from many of her fellow Democrats and prompted Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California to push for a vote on a resolution of anti-Semitism. Rather than putting the issue behind them, however, the move has prolonged the controversy and put a spotlight on divisions inside the party around a highly sensitive issue.The resolution came after Omar criticized politicians by using anti-Semitic tropes, prompting condemnation from several Jewish Democratic lawmakers and an apology from Omar last month. But Omar later when it suggested pro-Israel interests pushed members of Congress to pledge allegiance to a "foreign country," drawing further outrage from her colleagues. Pelosi had a choice: She could issue piecemeal condemnations and hope the issue disappeared, or in the bid with a strong resolution strike out of the House's stance on anti-Semitism. She chose the laugh but didn't count on the resistance from allies of Omar. After an ugly scrum broke out on Wednesday behind closed doors, the vote was tabled. Leadership is now rewriting the resolution to all hate, not just anti-Semitism. Anger from the left Members from both the Congressional Black Caucus and the younger, far-left wing of the party were furious about the leadership's gambit. They questioned singing out Omar for condemnation. What about bigotry from Republicans, including President Donald Trump? And why were democrats so focused on a…

For weeks, tensions on Capitol Hill have been rising over remarks from freshman rep. Ilhan Omar or Minnesota questioning the allegiance of Israel supporters in Congress. Her comments drew condemnation from many of her fellow Democrats and prompted Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California to push for a vote on a resolution of anti-Semitism. Rather than putting the issue behind them, however, the move has prolonged the controversy and put a spotlight on divisions inside the party around a highly sensitive issue.

The resolution came after Omar criticized politicians by using anti-Semitic tropes, prompting condemnation from several Jewish Democratic lawmakers and an apology from Omar last month. But Omar later when it suggested pro-Israel interests pushed members of Congress to pledge allegiance to a “foreign country,” drawing further outrage from her colleagues.

Pelosi had a choice: She could issue piecemeal condemnations and hope the issue disappeared, or in the bid with a strong resolution strike out of the House’s stance on anti-Semitism. She chose the laugh but didn’t count on the resistance from allies of Omar. After an ugly scrum broke out on Wednesday behind closed doors, the vote was tabled. Leadership is now rewriting the resolution to all hate, not just anti-Semitism.

Anger from the left

Members from both the Congressional Black Caucus and the younger, far-left wing of the party were furious about the leadership’s gambit. They questioned singing out Omar for condemnation. What about bigotry from Republicans, including President Donald Trump? And why were democrats so focused on a woman of color, one of two Muslims in Congress?

“Like some of my colleagues in the Congressional Black Caucus, I am concerned about the spotlight being put on Congresswoman Omar may put her at risk,” California Sen. Kamala Harris told reporters Wednesday. Sens. Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts ̵

1; who like Harris are running for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination – also their support for Omar

Others on the left asked why Democrats were condemning only bigotry against Jews. “We think that hate and racism in our country is growing. American Jewish, LGBTQ, Latino, immigrant, Muslim – it is something that needs to be looked at as a whole instead of just trying to come up with a hierarchy of hurt and pain, “Rep. Rashida Tlaib of Michigan, another freshman Democrat and the other Muslim in Congress, customs CNN on Wednesday.

Frustrated moderates

On the other side of the debate, moderate Democrats were frustrated that Omar’s comments have derailed the agenda in the House and exposed divisions in an otherwise unified caucus. There are also concerns that a watered-down statement might end up looking like tolerance or anti-Semitic views within the caucus

“One would think it would be easier than it appears to be a resolution condemning anti- Semitism, “Mark Mellman, a veteran Democratic pollster and founder of the Democratic Majority for Israel, told CNN. Mellman founded his group in January to support support in the party for the US-Israel relationship and to counterbalance what he sees as a rise in anti-Israel views among some Democrats.

The dispute is a leadership test for Pelosi and her Ability to handle a majority of people, both from energized young progressives from the heart of the anti-Trump resistance and moderates, were selected on pocketbook issues in Trump country. It’s not a debate about policy; it’s about bigotry and whether the caucus will tolerate it or not. The Democrats wanted to be in public as they ramp up investigations into Trump and push forward their policy agenda.

“This is not a productive use of our time,” a senior to a moderate House Democrat customs CNN. “We need to change the subject and get back to the things we promised to do, which is infrastructure, health care, jobs.”

The issue is the first real setback for a Democratic caucus that has largely remained in front of Trump. Trump’s national emergency declaration, House Democrats have so far hung together. “Those were enormous wins, and now this makes it look like we are in disarray,” said the senior aide. rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, and opening to criticize Democrats. “It is shameful that House Democrats won’t take a stronger stand against Anti-Semitism in their conference,” he tweeted Wednesday . “Anti-Semitism has fueled atrocities throughout history and it is inconceivable that it will not act on it!” There’s a cautionary speech unfolding across the pound, where Britain’s Labor Party is being pulled apart by its own anti-Semitism issues. Several disaffected Jewish members of Parliament have left the party over Labor leader Jeremy Corbyn’s perceived embrace of and tolerance for anti-Jewish sentiment.

We’re complicit in what is completely unacceptable, “says Josh Block, a former Clinton administration official and head of the Israel Project, a nonpartisan pro-Israel group. “And the leadership needs to act before the virus of Corbynism infects the party.”

A new paradigm

This is not the first time House Democrats have grappled with internal divisions. For 40 years, the party held control of the House with a coalition of Southern segregationists, urban blacks and the white working class. During that time, it deals with substantive issues including civil rights, the Cold War and tax audits, to name a few.

What seems to be different is the way the party trades differences among its factions. In a way, that’s the function of the rise of social media as a political tool, where communicating publicly to an online audience outweighs privately speaking to members of your coalition. It’s worth noting that Omar puts off this firestorm about Israel with a pair of tweets taking on members of its party for accepting money from Jewish-backed lobbying groups.

That disconnect between the new class and the old way of doing things was captured in the comments of 65-year-old Michigan Rep. Debbie Dingell. “What we need is not out there Twittering,” Dingell told reporters Wednesday. “We need to talk to each other.”

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